Paul Rudolph Branch, Sr., 93, of Morehead City, died July 22, 2010 at Carteret General Hospital.
Services will be held 2:00 pm Sunday at All Saints Anglican Church with the Reverend John Greyson and the Reverend David Linka officiating. Interment will follow at Bayview Cemetery.
Mr. Branch was born July 27, 1917 in Raleigh, NC. He was the son of Atlas M. and Nora Frances Hinnant Branch of Raleigh, NC. His education included Garner High School, Campbell College, Wake Forest College, all of NC, and Polytechnic Institute of Virginia. On April 16, 1944, he married Thelma Mintz of Wilmington, NC. He entered service in WWII as an Army Air Corps cadet, but developed hearing loss as a result of his training and was not able to continue. He was offered a desk job or a medical discharge, but instead volunteered for active duty in the European Theater of the war in the 10th Armored Division of General George S. Patton's US Third Army. He was in combat from the time he went ashore at Cherbourg, France, until the war's end. He saw action at St. Lo and Metz, France; Trier, Germany; and the Battle of the Bulge, to name a few, and survived having his tank knocked out by a German tank. On April 10, 1945, at Schwabisch Hall, Germany, he was awarded the Bronze Star for "advancing under intense enemy mortar, artillery, and sniper fire over exposed terrain, to capture an enemy mortar team."
Back at home after the war, he entered a Manager's Training Program with Roses 5 & 10 Stores in Henderson, NC, and at its completion took over their Virginia Beach store. His next store with this chain was Morehead City, NC. He remained here until he opened his own chain of stores located in Morehead City (which he now called home), Havelock, New Bern, and Newport, in the name of Branch's Variety Stores. After a period of fifteen years working for himself, he accepted a position with White's Variety Stores for manager of their Ahoskie, NC store, working for them for another fifteen years before he retired in 1983.
In 1951, still living in Morehead, he and his wife were two of 40 people who founded and built St. Andrews Episcopal Church. He served as grounds keeper, vestryperson, and treasurer while there. Over the years the church became divided and, after several years of litigation and soul searching, he and three-fourths of the congregation left St. Andrews in order to form their own church--"All Saints Anglican Church" of Morehead City.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Thelma, of the home, and son, Paul R. Branch, Jr. of Morehead City. His grandchildren are Stephanie R. Branch of Raleigh, NC, Erika P. Branch of Belhaven, NC, and a step-grandson, Jacob P. Sewell of Morehead City. He is also survived by one sister, Lois Adams, of Taylorsville, NC; one brother, J. Howard and wife Elma Branch of Charlotte, NC; one sister-in-law, Mrs. Douglas Branch of Cary, NC; and several nieces and nephews, among them his nephew Dr. Bernard and wife Barbara Bennett Branch of Lexington, KY, nephew Jerry and wife Gilda Branch of Raleigh, NC; nephew H. P. "Red" Benton of Wilson, NC; nephew Bradford and wife Kathy Branch of Atlanta, GA; niece Holly and husband Brent Kahl of Middlesex, NC; niece Sue and husband Robert Walker of Hendersonville, NC.
The family will receive friends 6:00 - 8:00 pm Saturday at Munden Funeral Home.
Memorial contributions may be made to All Saints Anglican Church Memorial Fund, 292 McCabe Road, Newport, NC 28570.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.mundenfuneralhome.net.
Funeral arrangements by Munden Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc.